Hi All, first time speed/cadence sensor user here, as of this morning:-)
Looking at the max and average stats from my new Garmin... what do they really mean? How does it relate to my riding and how do I review it over time to monitor improvement?
Being simple, am I right in thinking that a good zone of cadence will find you working the lungs and legs equally? For example - lower the RPM's and the legs will feel it more, raising the RPM's saves the legs but works the cardio more?
To cite Sheldon Brown:
"Every cyclist has an ideal "cadence" (pedaling speed), and an ideal amount of resistance from the pedals. When you are pedaling at your ideal cadence, you are putting out the greatest amount of power that you are able to sustain efficiently. You select your cadence by shifting gears. The gear needed to allow your "ideal" cadence will depend on the slope of the road, the wind conditions, and your own condition at any given time."
Professional cyclists will cycle at around 90-100 RPM on the flat and down to 70 RPM on steeper hills, but if you are not a serious athlete, this is higher than what will be optimal.
What is interesting is that there seem to be two optimum points - one reduces cellular stress, which reduces short term fatigue. This is why those professional cyclists pedal at around 90-100 RPM, however if you are not a serious athlete your optimum will more likely be in the 80 RPM range or even lower if you are elderly.
But this RPM is not optimum for endurance. A cadence of 60 RPM is energetically favourable and is what you should maintain if you are riding all day. (eg long distance touring where the goal is endurance, not speed).
I've recently read more about the idea of a high 'Lance' cadence disputed, it's more about being 'on top of the pedal resistance' when pedaling. What number that is is about your comfort and performance and I guess you'll learn that soon.
And if you ride fixed gear, cadence is a b######## because it's dictated by your gearing and your actual speed.
Seeing you're new to this cadence sensor thing, just spend some time watching it and getting used to the numbers. You'll be surprised at how your cadence varies (even with them geary thingies) and you'll soon start to spot patterns. After that, it's a case of learning where you feel best for any particular 'job'. It's all fun girl!
As for the average cadence, it's a load of rubbish at first because it also counts the time you're just coasting and so, is a lot lower than what your cadence actually was while pedalling. As you get used to things, you'll be able to use that average to determine whether you worked hard, took it easy or have lost form and were mashing rather than spinning, but let that understanding come with time.
It's easy to get baffled with bullshit when it comes to cadence. It's simpler than a lot of people make out and everyone is different. If you want to ride to it, aim to ride at a cadence of 90 for a bit, get used to that, then let your body dictate where it's happy - that's when you'll really start to appreciate it and to understand the messages it's giving you. Trouble is, by then, you don't need the thing and it's just something to keep a nerd's brain interested - funny, I like my bikes simple, but I'm a real numbers nerd and so play with these bike computers (hr, cadence, speed, etc)
The Garmin's have a "Non-Zero Averaging" feature for Cadence which by default is ON (but can be turned off). Basically it doesn't count zero pedalling data toward your average cadence.
Often though when I download my ride data I'll see a max cadence of 200+ rpm. That may just be a split second and is obviously incorrect, but not sure how often that happens during the ride and how it effects the averages- possibly not much.
Presumably you have already been pedalling a bike by feel, now you can just see the numbers associated with the effort.
spinners are winners and grinders are losers
I use a simple guideline......if the cadence reading on my Garmin only has one digit then I need to pedal faster.
I've found using my Garmin to measure cadence has been so helpful to my cycling. I had read something about a higher cadence (90-100rpm) being helpful in building endurance, but had no idea how fast that was without a sensor. Then, when I first got my Garmin 12 months ago, and tried lifting my cadence I found I was bouncing around a fair bit at 90rpm. Then I got rollers... they are amazing. My form is so much smoother and can now smoothly spin up to about 105-110rpm, but my normal range is 90-100 on the flat, 60-80 on hills.